I had this wild notion that I shouldn’t write about the election until it’s over, because when would be a good time to write about it? I didn’t feel like spamming my own blog with my own breathless pique over every outrage du jour spilling out of The Orange One. Every single time, I thought, There’s obviously another worse thing coming later that I should write about instead.
And here we are, with a mere weekend and change to go, and I’ve written nothing.
On my walk to the train station this evening, I thought that I have to write about this while the outcome is still uncertain, as after the fact I’ll either be too relieved to really sell the urgency of the moment, or otherwise too busy hugging myself and rocking back and forth in the nearest corner. I need to write about the election while I still don’t know how it’ll turn out, while the emotions are still raw from this election.
This election exposed and laid bare an ugliness that I always suspected existed here in the United States, but never imagined was so numerous. I knew there was out there somewhere a bitter cadre of devoted racists, bigots, and dickheads out there somewhere. I’d seen them. I knew they were out there. I had no idea how many people would join up with them as a useful political constituency and a vehicle for passing the Republican agenda. I had no idea how many elected officials would welcome these deplorables right into their tent, gladly accepting utterly toxic ideas like a ban on Muslims entering the country.
My earliest political memories are of the ‘92 election, the one with America’s original crazy-as-fuck uncle Ross Perot, and George H. W. Bush. I’m old enough, then, to remember when Republicans were basically normal politicians that had different ideas than the Democrats did about how best to run the People’s government. How quaint that notions sounds now….
Instead we’ve become enemies. We think of each other as they and them, not we and us. It is a political polarization and landscape that I would not recognize in my youth. When I was young, even as Bill Clinton was impeached, bills still got passed, the basic work of governance still proceeded, the machine still worked. All the gears could still mesh once in a while, often enough to move the whole thing forward in little shudders and lurches. Nothing was fucked.
Now, things are fucked.
We’ve now had about 40 years of Republicans campaigning on how the government
can’t possibly do anything right, and then governing with the aim of proving
themselves right. Our infrastructure is in bad repair, our working people are
doing no better–and many doing worse–than they were when I was a kid. Real
wages have barely moved. The tipped rate that waitstaff at restaurants hasn’t
been raised–or eliminated like it should be–since before I was born. The
economy writ large is doing okay, the housing market is okay, the employment
rate is pretty good, but there really is a constituency out there that is
still struggling. There’s a lot of people left behind. And, I’m realizing with
the Trump phenomenon, there are also a lot of really virulently racist,
bigoted, misogynist people out there, many more than I thought there were. And
now he has with his dog-whistle rich campaign summoned these, given them common
cause, a champion of their values, someone who will make America
WhiteGreat Again™! How will he do it? He’ll do it bigly, with
the best people, the best materials, the finest gilt bathroom fixtures. He is a
simpleton’s simpleton, speaking in monosyllables, the vocabulary of a second
grader, and he proposes only vague promises or says he’ll think up a plan
Yet somehow this is the choice before us.
Hillary Clinton is an imperfect candidate. Very few can get to the level in politics where they can be a serious contender for President, especially to be the first female President, without having a long career in politics. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, she has a life of public service behind her that is full of examples people can look to, to see how she might govern as President. Additionally, all of the wild conspiracy theories Trump throws around about Mrs. Clinton–Vince Foster, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky–have been pored over repeatedly in multiple congressional investigations that have brought up nothing. Ever. If there were real evidence that Mrs. Clinton was responsible for the level of corruption of which she is regularly accused by Republicans, it would have come to light years ago. No other person has ever been so closely scrutinized over so many years before running for President of the United States. She is imperfect, and she has lied, and she has bent the truth, and she has hidden things, but she has also served as first lady of Arkansas then the United States, as a US Senator from the Great State of New York and been reelected handily, as Secretary of State during, yes, Benghazi, but also the raid where we finally took out Bin Laden.
Trump has no such resume, having only been a real estate mogul, a reality TV clown, and an asshole before trying his hand at being a President too.
America please, please don’t do this. I don’t want to spend the next four years watching the country slowly wake up to the fact that this guy is crazy and dangerous, and antithetical to the values we tell the world we hold dear.
Get out there and VOTE, space cadets.